Monday, March 17, 2008
A&M's Underrated Week
We’re trying something new at A&M this week; we’re going thematic on that ass. Rather than write the same column over and over and give it a new name (like when we play Word Association, do the percentage chance thing or try the “Guy’s perspective on…” stuff, which, let’s face it, are entirely the same thing) we’re gonna switch it up a bit and write under one unmbrella ella ella for the whole week. So, welcome to A&M’s underrated week. We’re looking at movies, music, white wide receivers, nicknames for boobs, Jack Nicholson facial expressions and a bunch of other shit that has gone unnoticed or unheralded for far too long. Enjoy! (All 8 of you)
Underrated Comedy: Defending Your Life
Albert Brooks isn’t as smart as Woody Allen and he’s not as funny as Mel Brooks, but unlike those other writer/director/actors he’s a good actor, is a believable romantic lead and is generally likeable. This is a great movie from start to finish, a great premise, good chemistry between Meryl and Albert, and really, really, really funny.
Underrated Drama: Donnie Brasco
The movie made a small blip at the box office and was completely ignored during award season, but is one of the better gangster movies of all time and features two incredible performances by Johnny Depp and Al Pacino. Tight, lurid and entertaining throughout, not only does this pass the “great movie” test, but it also passes the “great DVD test,” which is any movie you can watch over and over and never get sick of. We all know Pacino can do quiet rage (The Godfather) and over the top rage (every movie from Scarface on) better than anyone, but in this movie it’s something totally different. He’s defeated, he’s worthless and he knows it, really fascinating to watch.
Underrated Dramedy or ComaDrama or Funny and Runny, whatever we’re calling it these days: Keeping The Faith
Weird but pleasant little movie with Edward Norton, Ben Stiller and Jenna Elfman about a love triangle between two life-long friends and the hot girl they knew as kids who moves back into town, With the added wrinkle that Ben Stiller is a rabbi and Edward Norton is a priest. Sounds stupid, right? Well, it kinda is, but the performances are awesome, the script is light and funny and the characters are believable and likeable. Any true Edward Norton fans should see this movie just to see a completely new side of his range and ability. After seeing this again recently I must have asked myself 15 times during the movie, “where the fuck is Edward Norton?” Why has it been so long since he was in a great movie? Don’t you ask yourself the same thing about Kevin Spacey once a month too? Is Edward Norton the perfect example of the Kevin Spacey corollary or vice versa?
Underrated Actor: Delroy Lindo
The un-challenged president of the “that guy hall of fame” for black guys, Lindo is a complicated, cool actor that always steals the scene and is criminally underused. His IMBD page is a combination of electric performances in movies like Malcolm X, Get Shorty and The Cider House Rules and thankless, “cool black guy” roles in Gone in 60 Seconds and Domino. How is Laurence Fishbourne a household name and this guy a that guy?
Underrated Actress: Samantha Morton
I tried to pick someone who’s never been nominated for an Oscar, but since her nominations came from movies no one has seen, including the criminally underrated The Sweet and Lowdown, I’m giving this a pass. She’s the real deal, her face is a completely blank slate, so much so that’s she’s basically unrecognizable from role to role. She seems to be one of the actresses that could blow up at any minute, but is careful with her career to make sure it doesn’t happen. Rent the Sweet and Lowdown one night (especially if you like Sean Penn, who gives one of his best performances) and watch this gal work, unbelievable.
Underrated Male Performance: Ralph Fiennes, The Constant Gardner
Rachel Weisz deservedly won an Oscar for this movie, but the more I watch this move the more Fiennes’ performance stays with me. Oscars usually go to the screamers while the quiet, introverted roles are routinely overlooked, which perfectly sums up the reception to this movie’s performances. Fiennes, known for Schindler’s List and the English Patient, is at his absolute best in this movie. Watching his face as he slowly pieces everything together, culminating with the amazing last shot on the beach, is an incredible journey and transformation. He’s one of the best we have and this is his best performance.
Underrated Female Performance: Ellen Burstyn, Requiem For a Dream
This is the week of bold calls, so here’s another one, In Requiem For a Dream Ellen Burstyn gave one of the top five best performances of all time, man or woman, comedy or drama, the conversation stops and ends with her in this movie. Haunting, physical, sympathetic, monstrous, pathetic, touching; name an adjective that you normally use when discussing a great performance and it fits here. Of course she didn’t win the Oscar, it went to, are you ready for this? Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich, a performance that will no doubt highlight A&M’s overrated list whenever that comes out. I don’t recommend watching this movie more than once, it’s that fucked up, but if you care about film and admire great acting, grab your teddy bear and plug this in.
Underrated sex scene: Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson, Little Children
The movie never really takes off, but the sex scene in the laundry room is a 12 out of 10. You’ve really got to hand it to Kate Winslet, one of the best actresses of her generation, British, a mom, and all that jazz, but she’s totally willing to let the dogs out if need be. She’s been in my top five for years, rent this movie and she’ll be in yours too.